MIDLAND, N.C. – Matt Hirschman hasn’t just been good at the John Blewett III Memorial North South Shootout in memory of Charles Kepley over the years – he’s been downright incredible.
Because of that fact, it was no surprise when Hirschman put his No. 60 PeeDee Motorsports modified on top of the speed charts during two-lap time trials on Friday evening at Concord Speedway.
Ahead of the 14th running of the annual crown jewel event for tour-type modifieds, Hirschman laid down a blistering lap of 15.249 seconds (118.041 mph) around the kidney-shaped half-mile to lead a field of 25 cars ahead of Saturday’s 125-lap feature event.
The 33-year-old veteran from Northampton, Pennsylvania is looking to extend a fall stretch that has included a Tri-Track Open Modified Series championship and wins in both the Race of Champions at Oswego Speedway and Bemer’s Big Show at New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
With a late decision to cancel Saturday’s scheduled heat races for the tour-type modifieds, the qualifying results mean that Hirschman will start on the pole in search of his record-extending sixth North-South Shootout victory.
“It was a good lap, but we’ve got a long way to go tomorrow,” Hirschman said. “That’s the main thing that we’re focused on here. This is a relatively new team. PeeDee Motorsports isn’t the team I’ve typically run with here, so I’m really happy with the result today, but I still think we’ve got more to learn here before tomorrow.”
“I have noticed some differences between this car and the car I’m used to, but we’re hoping that they’re differences for the better. This car is a lot newer than what that car was, so we’re optimistic. I don’t want to downplay (winning the pole) because it’s a nice accomplishment for this team, but I don’t want to be overconfident either … because the race is the true test and that’s when being up front really counts.”
Late model ace Jeff Fultz took the Brady Bunch Racing No. 00 to the runner-up position on the speed charts, turning a quick lap of 15.276 seconds (117.832 mph) in his debut North-South Shootout appearance after winning a PASS South super late model race at South Boston (Va.) Speedway in August.
Brandon Ward, four-time Valenti Modified Racing Series champion Jon McKennedy and four-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III completed the ‘Fast Five’.
Feature racing for the 14th annual John Blewett III Memorial North South Shootout in memory of Charles Kepley kicks off at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Audio with fast qualifier Matt Hirschman:
Audio with third-quick Brandon Ward: